Public support appears to be growing for a greatly enhanced U.S. role in combatting ISIS jihadists. A new Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday shows that Americans by a margin of two-to-one now support deploying more U.S. ground troops to fight and destroy the terror group.
Sixty-two percent of those surveyed across the country said they favor sending in ground troops compared with 30 percent who oppose it. Moreover, nearly 70 percent say they are “very confident” or “somewhat confident” that the U.S. and its European and Middle Eastern allies will eventually prevail over ISIS.
The U.S. currently has about 2,300 troops in Iraq, but they are primarily providing security and advice to the Iraqi government while staying far away from the fighting.
President Obama for the time being has ruled out the deployment of more ground troops to that region, fearing that he might lead the U.S. back into another quagmire in Iraq and the surrounding region, after spending years trying to wind down the war. His central strategy for months has been to combine U.S. air strikes against ISIS strongholds with helping to train and arm Iraqi military and friendly militias in Iraq and Syria to carry the fight to the terrorists.
However, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have testified that they would recommend to the president putting more U.S. boots on the ground if they concluded the conditions warranted it.
Some influential congressional Republicans, including Armed Services Committee Chair John McCain of Arizona, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a potential 2016 presidential candidate and House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, insist that that the U.S. cannot prevail in the conflict without a substantial commitment of ground forces to root out and destroy the powerful terrorists.
According to the new survey, many Americans agree with the Republicans that a major deployment of U.S. ground troops is unavoidable. “Send in the troops and eliminate ISIS: the resounding hardline message from Americans who say, ‘Don't negotiate with terrorists; destroy them,’” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, in a statement.
A breakdown of the poll shows men back the deployment of U.S. troops in that region by 68 percent to 28 percent, while women favor it 57 percent to 33 percent. Only 39 percent of voters are concerned that U.S. military action will go too far in committing the U.S. to long term fighting in the Middle East, while 53 percent are more concerned that the U.S. military will not go far enough in stopping ISIS.
Public support has grown for an all-out U.S. offensive against the terrorist groups amid horrifying reports of mass beheadings and widespread killing of civilians and military opponents by ruthless and heavily armed ISIS forces. Fears of a renewal of 9/11 style attacks against the U.S. have also grown following a rash of terrorist attacks in France, Denmark, Australia and Canada inspired by radical Islamic organizations.
While Secretary of State John F. Kerry and other senior administration officials contend that the U.S. and its allies are making progress in what is certain to be a long-term battle, it’s far from clear that the U.S. can count on any indigenous ground forces to take the fight to ISIS, other than perhaps the peshmerga military forces of the Kurds.
Iraqi government forces allied with the U.S. are waging what is certain to be an uphill and lengthy fight to reclaim the northern city of Takrit from the ISIS military – Iraq’s most ambitious effort to date to try to drive out ISIS occupying forces in the country. However, the assault could likely morph into a lengthy urban war of attrition with no clear cut resolution, The Washington Post reported yesterday.
Securing the majority Sunni Takrit, the home of the late dictator Saddam Hussein, is crucial for the Iraqi army to prepare for an offensive to eventually liberate the the northern city of Mosul from the ISIS.
The U.S. Central Command, or CENTCOM, which oversees the military coalition fight against ISIS in Iraq, recently inexplicably held a press conference to outline the size and makeup of a force that the U.S. hopes will be ready for the offensive within the coming month or two to retake Mosul from an estimated 1,000 to 2,000 ISIS fighters. The public press briefing tipping off the enemy to the government’s plans caught the president and the defense secretary by surprise and was subsequently retracted.
According to the new Quinnipiac poll, voters say 64 percent to 23 percent that Congress should grant the authorization requested by President Barack Obama to use military force against ISIS. Yet nearly seven months after Obama sent the military back into combat to take on Islamic State, few in Congress appear enthusiastic about drafting a new war powers act to provide the president with expanded authority.
Republicans for the most part think the president’s request for war-making powers are too weak and inadequate to get the job done, while many Democrats believe Obama went too far in seeking new authority to replace ground rules set a decade ago in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. “It does not seem to have resonated with anyone,” Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine and a member of the Intelligence Committee, recently told The New York Times. “I haven’t found any colleague who’s been enthusiastic about it.”
Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, told The Fiscal Times recently he felt there was no need to rush the deliberations. Corker said he planned to hold extensive hearings to explore whether the president’s current strategy in Iraq and Syria made sense or needed to be altered. Only after that will he begin to look at the president’s proposed force authorization.
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